Friday, December 22, 2017

Time to Defend Our Democracy

By Cal Potter

Russia extensively meddled to influence our political and social views, shown through thousands of social media/internet posts, many paid for in Rubles. This tactic is illegal, a modern attack on our nation, and the political hacks who aided and abetted this effort are also guilty of a crime.

Putin and his oligarchy cronies have stolen billions of dollars from the Russian economy, diverting and laundering that treasure via foreign banks and investments. This theft is tragic for the Russian people, and a crime. Those who helped in this heist in any manner also engaged in criminal activity, and should be held accountable.

The Mueller investigation into the above is essential for the rule of law and defense of our democracy. Failure to thoroughly investigate and prosecute these illegal acts would be a despicable derelict of duty, and disrespect of our national heritage.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

UW Study Documents Problems with Voter ID

By Tom Frazier

It appears that people who thought that Wisconsin's strict Voter ID law would suppress eligible voters have had their suspicions confirmed.

A recent (September 25, 2017) study by the University of Wisconsin indicates that 16,801 (11.2%) people were deterred from voting by Wisconsin’s Voter ID law and 9,001(6%) people were prevented from voting in the 2016 presidential election. The study also found that low income and minority voters were disproportionately affected with 21.1% of low-income voters deterred vs. 7.2% of higher income voters. Only 8.3% of white registered voters were deterred compared to 27.5% of African Americans.

“Deterred” from voting is defined as (they) “lack qualifying ID or mention ID as a reason for not voting.” “Prevented” means that “they lack qualifying ID or list voter ID as their primary reason for not voting.”

The study was conducted by mailing a survey to 2,400 nonvoting registered voters in Milwaukee and Dane County with a total of 293 (12.2%) surveys returned. The survey was funded by the Office of the Dane County Clerk, so no questions were asked about political party or who they voted for. People responding to the survey were asked about gender, race, income and exposure to Voter ID information. They were also asked to respond to reasons for not voting such as, unhappy with choice of candidates, vote would not have mattered, transportation problems, did not have photo ID, told at polling place that ID was inadequate, couldn’t get absentee ballot, and problems with early voting.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Redistricting Reform & Judicial Recusal

By Roger Utnehmer

Two branches of Wisconsin government are suffering the moral equivalent of emerald ash borer disease.

Like far too many once-beautiful trees throughout Wisconsin, the state legislature and Supreme Court are in danger of losing their luster.

Government derives its power from the consent of the governed. An informed electorate will never consent to the reapportionment and recusal corruption that’s plaguing the Wisconsin legislature and Supreme Court.

Every ten years the legislature, taking into account the most recent census data, re-draws district boundaries for the state senate and assembly. That practice has resulted in Wisconsin legislators picking their voters instead of Wisconsin voters picking their legislators.

It’s called “gerrymandering” and Wisconsin is among the most gerrymandered states in the country. When several hundred thousand more state-wide citizens vote for Democrats in state assembly races than Republicans and Republicans keep more than a two-thirds of the seats, the electoral process is as diseased as a dying emerald ash tree.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Money Doesn't Talk, It Screams

By Tom Frazier

As a registered lobbyist for almost 27 years and an unpaid, volunteer lobbyist for the last seven years, I have witnessed some major political changes, most of them not good.

One such change is obvious and that is the ever increasing influence of money in political decision-making. This influence was growing already when I retired at the end of 2009, but then the Supreme Court ruling in January 2010 in the Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for that influence. This 5-4 decision said that money was free speech and allowed for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, including ads favoring one candidate over another.

The recent attempt by Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump to pass the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is an example of how bad the influence of money has become. The replacement, the American Health Care Act, contained a $1 trillion tax cut, primarily for the benefit of the wealthy, funded largely by a cut of $880 billion in Medicaid funding. This was an intentional strategy on the part of Ryan to make it easier to provide even larger tax cuts to businesses when Congress and the President moved on to tax reform. In an interview with Fox Business News on March 15, 2017, Ryan said:
“A trillion dollars…that’s 10 percentage points on rates for businesses. It takes the corporate rate from 35 to 20 [%]. That’s why doing this [health care] first makes tax reform that much easier to accomplish.”
Providing large tax cuts to those who don’t need them at the expense of huge cuts in health care for the most vulnerable (elderly, disabled, and children) is, I believe, cynical bordering on unconscionable.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Gerrymandering: Unconstitutional and Unaffordable

By Tom Frazier

“Gerrymander” is defined as: “To divide (an area) into political units to give special advantage to one group.” It was named after Elbridge Gerry, Governor of Massachusetts, who in 1812 signed a law redistricting state election districts. One district in Essex County was described as looking like a salamander, thus the word “Gerrymander” was created by combining the names.

Wisconsin has one of the worst cases in the country of using gerrymandering to give “special advantage to one group” – in this case Republicans in the state legislature. But gerrymandering is a bi-partisan problem according to Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. The two worst Democratic states are Rhode Island and Maryland, while Wisconsin and North Carolina comprise the two worst Republican states Heck reports. The big difference is that Wisconsin is the first such state to have a three-judge federal appeals panel rule that Wisconsin’s redistricting law “constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander.” The panel voted 2-1 to direct the state to develop a new redistricting plan and have it in place by November 1, 2017 for the 2018 elections.